Ms Emma Sherlock

Emma Sherlock
  • Curator
  • Life Sciences department
  • Invertebrates
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Job description

I am a Curator in the Invertebrate Section of the Zoology Department at the Museum. Our section manages a collection of over 20 phyla including Crustacea, Echinodermata, Porifera, Cnidaria and Annelida. 

Main area of responsibility : Curator of the Free-living Worm (Annelids, free-living Nematodes, minor phyla) and Porifera collections.

Curatorial responsibilities involve; Conservation, maintenance and enhancement of the collections, recruiting and managing volunteers, arranging scientific loans, identification of incoming material where possible and answering public enquiries.

Area of expertise: Earthworm Taxonomy

Other Titles: President of the Earthworm Society of Britain.

Twitter account: @Emmasherlock4


Curatorial projects

Polychaete type project

  • Digitalisation project with the Museums photographic unit to photograph the Polychaete type collection.
  • Trialing the use of CT scanning on invertebrate collections
  • A Zoology representative on a Museum wide committee assessing the state of the Museum's microscope slide collections.
  • Department wide condition survey of Microscope slides
  • Large scale conservation project on the Nematode taxonomic collection and incorporation of the ecological collection.
  • Carrying out collections research on the longevity of test tube lids and alcohol percentages in the collections in relation to the storage media.
  • Identification and Incorporation of the Oligochaete and Polychaete unidentified collections
  • Reorganisation of the Porifera dry store

General Collections responsibilities

  • Part of the Invertebrate Curation team
  • Zoology volunteer representative
  • Main area of responsibility the Annelid, free living worm and Porifera collections
  • Integrated pest Management representative
  • Health and safety connitee member
  • Departmental representative on a committee for the conservation of Microscope slides
  • Supervisor of 4 volunteers

Research/ Fieldwork


Fieldwork in Nicaragua

Stewert and Enrique- fieldwork in Nicaragua

In 2009 I led an expedition to Nicaragua with the Entomological Museum in Leon, and with Frontier and Paso Pacifico (UK and Nicaraguan conservation organisations respectively) to document the earthworm fauna of the country for the first time. Two new species were then described and 18 new species records. 

With the Soil biodiversity group I have participated in numerous days fieldwork throughout the UK documenting British Earthworms, in particular in Whitley wood in the New Forest. This in ongoing

In 2012 I was part of a Museum wide expedition to Vietnam working in the Cat Tien National Park. The material collected is being worked up.



Research Projects involved in:


Blue worm

  • Working with the Soil biodiversity group to identify their earthworm material from Borneo, French Guiana, Madagascar and Belize
  • Project identifying Mexican earthworms with Julian Bueno from Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Mexico.
  • Project to map the earthworms of Britain.
  • Earthworm fauna of Kew gardens - to date two species new to the UK have been discovered in this project.
  • Mass participation OPAL earthworm survey of England
  • Identification of the Plisko collection from Ghana


Opal website


Other Research

Collections-based research has been carried out on slide sealants, and current projects include the testing of plastics for longevity and alcohol percentages in the Annelid collections.

Collections based research on CT scanning and its effects on soft bodied invertebrate specimens in particular Annelids.





Sherlock, E. (2012). A Key to the Earthworms of the UK and Ireland. AIDGAP (Aids to the Identification of Difficult Groups of Animals and Plants)  (ISBN 978-1-908819-02-4).



Sherlock E & Berridge L. 2012 (in press). History of the earthworm collections at the Natural History Museum, London. Advances in Earthworm Taxonomy V. Proceedings of the 5th International Oligochaete taxonomy meeting

Carpenter D, Sherlock E, Jones DT, Chiminoides, J, Writer T, Neilson R, Boag B, Keith AM & Eggleton P. 2011. Mapping of earthworm distribution for the British Isles and Eire highlights the under-recording of an ecologically important group. Biodiversity and Conservation. DOI 10.1007/s10531-011-0194-x

Sherlock E, Lee S, Mcphee, Steer M, Micheal Maes J & Csuzdi, C., 2011.  The First Earthworm collections for Nicaragua with description of two new species (Oligochaeta). Zootaxa 2732: 49-58

Boros G & Sherlock, E. (2010): Catalogue of the enchytraeid collection (Oligochaeta: Enchytraeidae) of the Natural History Museum in London. 1 Spirit Collection. Opusc. Zool. Budapest, 41 (1): 19-27

Sherlock, E & Carpenter, D.  2009. An updated earthworm list for the British Isles and two new ‘exotic’ species to Britain from Kew Gardens. Eur J Soil Biology 45, 431-435

Eggleton P, Inward K, Smith J, Jones D, Sherlock  E. 2009. A six year study of earthworm (Lumbricidae) populations in pasture woodland in southern England shows their responses to soil temperature and soil moisture. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 41, 1857-1865

Sherlock, E & Jones, D. 2008. A field guide to British earthworms to support a national survey. Advances in Earthworm Taxonomy III. Proceedings of the 3rd International Oligochaete taxonomy meeting. P225-228 NICOSIA.

Allington, L & Sherlock, E. 2007. Choosing a microscope slide sealant: A review of ageing characteristics and the development of a new test, using low oxygen environments. NatSCA news 12 p4-14



Copeland-Bloom S. 2011. Eddie the Earthworm saves the day. Amateur entomological society and the Earthworm Society of Britain.